11/04/2003 12:00AM

After falling just short, At Dawn is due

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ALBANY, Calif. - Stakes-winning I'm a Soccer Boy and stakes-placed At Dawn and Grandpa Chan will meet in Thursday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a 1 1/16-mile $40,000 optional claimer for 3-year-olds on the turf.

I'm a Soccer Boy, who won the Trooper Seven at Emerald Downs two starts back, and Club Forty One are the only two runners among the six entrants running for a tag. Banker Boy and Shadow Raider complete the field.

Although he is the lone entrant with only one lifetime victory, At Dawn may be the one to beat. He raced twice at Bay Meadows for trainer Armando Lage after being sent north by trainer Doug O'Neill.

At Dawn came from last to be a strong third against Blue Blood Boot in the Half Moon Bay Handicap. He sat much closer in his next start against company similar to Thursday's, but lost by a nose to stakes-winning stablemate Obermeister.

At Dawn has improved his Beyer Speed Figures in four straight races and has two easy three-furlong works since his last start on Oct. 9. His stablemate, Grandpa Chan, was just claimed by Lage.

I'm a Soccer Boy won his maiden against older horses at Emerald Meadows and launched a five-wide rally to win a three-way photo in the Trooper Seven against his own age group.

I'm a Soccer Boy was last in his lone turf start Oct. 8, but he met older horses that day and faced a very tough field. Vallarta parlayed his victory that day into a stakes victory in his next start, and runner-up Tonco also won his next start. I'm a Soccer Boy will be coming from off the pace on Thursday.

Shadow Raider, claimed by Northern California's leading trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, on July 28 at Del Mar, has not run since Aug. 20. Shadow Raider has the most speed and should be the one to catch under Russell Baze, whose 96 victories at Bay Meadows nearly match the total of his three closest rivals - Ron Warren (37 wins), Chance Rollins (32), and Jason Lumpkins (32).

Shadow Raider's stablemate Banker Boy has improved his Beyer in each of his four turf starts and will get a good stalking trip.

Club Forty One, who comes from off the pace, has a turf victory and was third behind At Dawn in his first start since being claimed by trainer Lonnie Arterburn.

* My Captain, winner of three straight sprint stakes, at Santa Rosa, Bay Meadows, and Fresno, tops the list of seven nominees for the meet's first scheduled stakes race, the $60,000-added Albany Handicap at six furlongs Saturday.